Eurostar cancels all services for rest of the day due to UK flooding incident

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Fresh Eurostar cancelations cause misery for New Year travelers
All Eurostar trains were cancelled on Saturday due to flooded tunnels in southern England, causing misery for New Year travelers in the second major disruption in 10 days.

The latest cancelations follow a wildcat strike by French unions days before Christmas and weather warnings from the UK’s Met Office for rain, snow and ice across large parts of the country.

Hundreds of travelers were left stranded at London’s St Pancras station after Eurostar canceled all services for the entire day.

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Newly-weds Nicole Carrera, 29, and her husband Christopher, 31, visiting from New York said their plans to spend New Year’s Eve at Disneyland Paris had been “ruined.”

“Now we won’t get into Paris tomorrow until about 6:00 p.m.,” Carrera said, adding that instead they would just walk around the French capital.

After earlier cancelling all trains up to 4 p.m. UK time (1600 GMT), Eurostar said that flooding in two tunnels had “not improved.”

“Eurostar has therefore had to take the unfortunate decision to cancel all services for the rest of the day,” it said.

It added that it was “extremely sorry” for the impact it would have on customers at “a vital time to get home at the end of the festive season.”

Another couple, Christina David, 25, and Georgina Benyamin, 26, from Sydney, had planned to make Paris their final stop in Europe before flying home.

David said she felt “frustrated, angry, sad,” adding that “there were lots of people crying” and that they now had nowhere to stay.

The services were canceled after tunnels near Ebbsfleet International station in Kent were flooded.

Eurostar runs services from London to Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam via Ashford, midway between London and the southern English coast.

In a statement, Southeastern Railway said the flooding meant “all lines are blocked.”

Year of travel chaos

Simon Shaw, 36, and his wife Heather, 37, from central England, had been due to travel to the French Alps for a skiing holiday with friends and family.

“We just arrived and saw everything was canceled this morning... it was chaos,” Simon Shaw said.

The disruption comes after French unions ended a wildcat strike that had stranded holidaymakers and held up freight just days before Christmas.

The surprise walkout by workers that blocked the tunnel sparked hours of chaos at rail hubs in Paris and London.

Eurostar train services resumed on December 22 after an agreement was reached, with unions saying negotiations had yielded “results that satisfy us.”

Saturday’s canceled services top off a year of travel disruption for UK travelers due to strikes, storms and other problems.

Travelers to France in April endured waiting times of up to 16 hours at Dover due to larger than expected numbers and weather conditions.

The then interior minister Suella Braverman denied the delays were a consequence of Brexit.

In August, flights to and from the UK were hit by a technical fault affecting air traffic control systems while in November Storm Ciaran saw ferry crossings and flights cancelled.

More than a year of walk-outs by rail workers over pay and conditions amid a cost of living crisis has also impacted travelers.

Although the RMT rail union last month said its members had voted in favor of a pay deal, the Aslef union, which represents drivers, has yet to come to an agreement.

Eurostar is owned 55.75 percent by French state-owned SNCF Voyageurs.

It almost went bankrupt during the COVID-19 pandemic but was saved with a 290-million-euro ($320.6 million) bailout from shareholders including the French government.

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